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Birrer Named Director of University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center

Published Online:7:18 PM, Fri June 16, 2017

Michael J. Birrer, MD, PhD
Michael J. Birrer, MD, PhD, has been named director of the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center. His position will take effect August 1.
Birrer is currently director of Medical Gynecologic Oncology and director of the Gynecologic Cancer Research Program at the Gillette Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Additionally, he leads the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center program in gynecologic cancers and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“Mike Birrer is an outstanding physician-scientist who balances a vision of transformation and leadership,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at UAB. “He understands drivers for excellence in clinical care and has a vision for growing precision medicine in cancer care, as well as a well-established commitment to fundamental scientific discovery. His strategy in moving cancer research from bench to bedside and back to the bench is also a fundamental element of our Cancer Center’s mission to provide the highest-quality cancer care while advancing our understanding of cancer and translating that knowledge into better prevention, detection and treatment.”
Birrer’s lab has a long history of determining the genomic characteristics of ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers and using the data to form the basis for early detection assays, prevention strategies, and novel therapies. His research interests include the molecular origins of gynecologic cancers, as well as the identification and characterization of aberrations in oncogenes and tumors suppressor genes in these cancers.
Birrer started his career in 1998 as an investigator at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. He served as a senior investigator and chief of the Molecular Mechanisms Section of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. In 2000, he became the deputy chief of the Cell and Cancer Biology Branch at the Center for Cancer Research. He has served in his current roles at Massachusetts General since 2008.
He will succeed Edward E. Patridge, MD, the Evalina B. Spencer Chair in Oncology, who is retiring from UAB after a 48-year career, including 10 years as director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The leader of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the most important roles at UAB because the center touches so many aspects of our institutional mission,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Dr. Birrer’s recruitment will ensure that the Cancer Center continues to build on its successes and continues moving forward as a destination for groundbreaking discovery and the highest-quality patient care.”
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center treats an estimated 5,000 new patients each year and is home to nearly 250 physicians and researchers from 30 departments and 9 UAB schools, as well as affiliations with Southern Research Institute and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
“UAB is a first-rate institution with a Comprehensive Cancer Center that is all around one of the best in the nation, offering tremendous opportunities for growth and service to the cancer patients of Alabama, the United States and abroad,” Birrer said. “It is a great honor for me to lead such a prestigious cancer center.”

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